DIY STEAM Projects To Try With Kids At Home

As we enter the first week of December and temperatures begin to drop, the Umbrella Programs Team is brainstorming all sorts of creative indoor activities for our students. An online resource we often use for inspiration is called 'The Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio'—which has a great library of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) based project ideas and tutorials. One of our favorites is a project on light play! We love how something as simple as a shadow puppet can inspire hours of imaginative play with young children. The projects below build upon that love of play and encourage children to experiment with color mixing, reflection, light filtration, and movement.

Project Idea: Build Your Own Light Table

Use a storage container with a clear lid and string lights to create a simple light table. Explore color, light, and shadow using materials such as tissue paper, plastic figurines, yarn, and translucent Magna-Tiles. Try to find materials with different opacities, colors, and textures.

Project Idea: Create a Light Play Set

Create a simple screen using a translucent material such as parchment paper. Use

binder clips to attach the paper to an old picture frame, and you’ve set the stage for light play! Taping a piece of parchment paper over an opening in a cardboard box is also a quick and easy solution.

Don’t have time or the materials to build a screen? Remember that a wall or ceiling

can also be a great backdrop!

Once your Light Play Set is complete, it’s time to gather materials. Here are a few

ideas to get you started:

- flashlights

- string lights

- LEDs + batteries

- cut paper

- small toys

- bubble wrap

- colored cellophane

- colored tissue paper

- mirrors

- water bottles

- clear beads

Light Play Sets are great for storytelling. Set the stage using plastic figurines and explore how altering the direction or color of lights in the background can change the scene.

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